The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 16, 2013

Our View: Writing on the wall

The Joplin Globe

— Paul Whitehill’s Route 66 murals on the south side of the Pearl Brothers building near Seventh and Main streets will likely be complete by the end of the week. Another one of his tile creations in Galena, Kan., is finished and ready for photo opportunities.

Six more murals are in the development stages for Joplin. Suddenly, we see ourselves in the middle of a Renaissance period. Or maybe it’s not so sudden.

Whitehill told the Globe on Monday that public art had been much the topic of discussion before the May 22, 2011, tornado.

“The intention was always there,” Whitehill said. “Now, people are making it happen.”

Whitehill’s project when complete will come in at $62,000. So far, $40,000 has been raised from private donations.

Private monies have also been used to fund the other murals, and, in our view, that’s the way to pay for public art.

Local government support is always welcome, of course, but it’s been good to see the art community — from Phoenix Fired Art to Missouri Southern State University art students working on a downtown Joplin mural — controlling the destiny of the area’s public art.

Why should you care? Because countless studies show that public art is good for tourism and economic development.

If Joplin is looking for writing on the wall, we say look no further than on the side of a growing number of buildings where art is being created.

Stop and take a look.